New research into rail track piling design

(Photo: Chris Fithall/flickr)

A partnership between a university and a UK ground engineering contractor hopes to bring forward geotechnical innovation in the rail industry.

Van Elle and Nottingham Trent University have entered a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) to simplify the design process for ground engineering in the rail sector.

The aim of the three-year project, led by Dr Koohyar Faizi, is to help contractors put the right solution in first time – making lines safer, providing value engineering and reducing whole-life costs.

Dr Faizi said: “In this project we’re looking to optimise the design process for the track bed stabilisation system that is already developed by Van Elle.

“We are developing two packages. One is purely geotechnical engineering where we use numerical analysis and software to simulate the behaviour of piles based on different scenarios such as types of soils, speeds, weights and so on. Meanwhile, we’re using something called vision-based technology, which uses cameras to monitor the rail deflection and gives us information to use in our designs.

“The idea is to combine these two packages to inform better decisions about the type of engineering required, the exact type of pile needed for various points on the line and the length of the pile needed at precise points. At the end of the project we will develop some user-friendly software so that everyone can use it without any specialist knowledge.”

The study is co-funded by the government innovation agency, Innovate UK.

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